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IRS Guidance on Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

The IRS issued a notice providing guidance to small businesses that are eligible to claim a tax credit for employee health insurance coverage (Notice 2010-44).  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) enacted new IRC § 45R, which allows certain eligible small businesses to claim a tax credit if they offer health insurance to their employees. In 2010, small businesses—defined as businesses with 25 or fewer employees and average annual wages of less than $50,000—are eligible for credits of up to 35% of nonelective contributions the businesses make on behalf of their employees for insurance premiums. Tax-exempt organizations get a 25% credit against payroll taxes. After 2013, the credit increases to 50% (and 35% for tax-exempt organizations). The amount of the credit is based on a percentage of the lesser of: (1) the amount of nonelective contributions paid by the eligible small employer on behalf of employees under a qualifying arrangement during the tax year, and (2) the amount of nonelective contributions the employer would have paid under the arrangement if each employee were enrolled in a plan that had a premium equal to the average premium for the small group market in the state (or in an area in the state) in which the employer is offering health insurance coverage.  Notice 2010-44 provides the following steps for determining whether an employer is eligible for a credit under section 45R:

  1. Determine the employees who are taken into account for purposes of the credit.
  2. Determine the number of hours of service performed by those employees.
  3. Calculate the number of the employer’s FTEs [full-time equivalent employees].
  4. Determine the average annual wages paid per FTE.
  5. Determine the premiums paid by the employer that are taken into account for purposes of the credit. Specifically, the premiums must be paid by an employer under a qualifying arrangement and must be paid for health insurance that meets the requirements of section 45R.

The notice provides details for each of these steps. For example, in determining what employees are taken into account for purposes of the credit, the notice specifies that “sole proprietors, partners in a partner

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ship, shareholders owning more than two percent of an S corporation, and any owners of more than five percent of other businesses are not taken into account as employees for purposes of the credit.” The notice defines a “qualifying arrangement” as “an arrangement under which the employer pays premiums for each employee enrolled in health insurance coverage offered by the employer in an amount equal to a uniform percentage (not less than 50 percent) of the premium cost of the coverage.” The notice also defines what qualifies as health insurance coverage for purposes of the credit. The notice specifies that different types of coverage are not aggregated for purposes of meeting the qualifying arrangement requirement, so if an employer offers a medical insurance plan and a stand-alone vision plan, for example, each type of coverage must separately satisfy the requirements for a qualifying arrangement. The notice also addresses situations in which an employer is entitled to a state tax credit or a premium subsidy that is paid directly to the employer. The notice says that in this situation, for purposes of determining whether the employer has satisfied the “qualifying arrangement” requirement to pay an amount equal to a uniform percentage (not less than 50%) of the premium cost, the premium payment made by the employer is not reduced by the state credit or subsidy. The notice specifies that eligible employers will claim the credit on their annual income tax returns, as part of the general business credit, and an unused credit amount may be carried back one year or forward 20 years. However, because the unused credit amount cannot be carried back to years prior to the enactment of the credit, for 2010 tax years unused credit amounts can only be carried forward.  The credit can be reflected in estimated tax payments and can offset an employer’s alternative minimum tax liability for the year (subject to certain limitations). The notice clarifies that an employer cannot take a deduction under IRC § 162 for that portion of the health insurance premiums paid that is equal to the amount of the section 45R credit. The IRS will provide tax-exempt employers with further information on how to claim the credit.

The notice provides transition rules for 2010 and numerous examples illustrating how the credit works.

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Computers – Where would your business be without them?

Your computer system organizes your communications, controls your inventory and holds your creative ideas.

You have a significant investment in this technology, and you should protect it.

Your conventional property insurance policy may cover damage by fire, wind or theft; but that policy may not completely protect your hardware, software and network capabilities. In order to protect your system against special electronic hazards, you need a policy tailored to the unique nature of the technology.

Accept no substitutes

The Cincinnati Insurance Company's Electronic Data Processing Policy features protection from conventional causes of loss such as fire, wind and theft. More importantly, Cincinnati's EDP Policy protects against
loss caused by:

•    accidental erasure of data
•    mechanical breakdown
•    employee sabotage
•    short circuiting of equipment
•    sewer backup
•    computer virus
•    changes in temperature
•    flood and earthquake
•    sprinkler leakage

When software becomes a nightmare…

If only it were a dream … when your system suffers a mechanical breakdown, there may be damage to your hardware. However, even more serious is the loss of information or the loss of media (discs, tapes, CDs) on which you store information. The cost of these items may be substantial, particularly the cost to reproduce your data base and replace your programs. Cincinnati's policy extends coverage to these items for 20 percent of the equipment coverage amount on your policy up to $10,000.*

And downtime affects your bottom line

What-happens-when your–system-goes down?
In many businesses, the mere cost of repairs. The real financial impact involves the interruption of your business. If a computer breakdown could affect your earnings or require that you incur additional expense to resume operation, then EDP loss of income and extra expense coverage protects your revenues. The policy automatically
provides this coverage up to a maximum of $10,000.*

More coverage’s

Your EDP Policy:
•    covers your property while

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on your premises
•    follows you when it is necessary to move your equipment to another location
•    includes 20 percent of hardware/software limits up to $50,000* when in transit and away from premises
•    covers newly acquired property automatically up to $250,000 for up to 90 days
•    reimburses up to $50,000 for recharge expenses for fire protection system
•    covers up to 20 percent of the data/media limits up to $10,000* for duplicate and backup data/media stored
at other locations
•    provides replacement cost for valuation of property with no coinsurance requirement
•    covers scheduled locations on a blanket limit basis

Consider this option

Cincinnati's EDP Policy covers damage from electrical disturbances that occur within 1,000 feet of your business location. You may want to further protect your system from hazards created by electrical disturbances beyond 1,000 feet. A distant electrical transformer explosion may do considerable damage to your computer system. You may extend your electrical disturbance coverage as an option to your policy.  Protect your information technology with a high-tech insurance policy from The Cincinnati Insurance Company.

* Higher limits are available.

This is not a policy. For a complete statement of the coverage’s and exclusions, please see the policy contract. Coverage’s are available in most states. For information, quotes, policy service or coverage availability in your state, please contact your local independent agent recommending coverage. “The Cincinnati Insurance Companies” and “Cincinnati” refer to one or more companies of the insurer group providing property and casualty coverage’s through The Cincinnati Insurance Company or one of its wholly owned subsidiaries – o The Cincinnati Indemnity Company, The Cincinnati Casualty Company or o The Cincinnati Specialty Underwriters Insurance Company – and life and disability income insurance and annuities through o The Cincinnati Life Insurance Company. Not all subsidiaries operate in all states. 6200 South Gilmore Road, Fairfield, Ohio 45014-5141.

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Broccoli Cornbread

1 BOX CHOPPED BROCCOLI (THAWED)

1 STICK BUTTER OR MARGARINE

4 EGGS

1 CUP COTTAGE CHEESE

1 LARGE ONION (FINELY CHOPPED)

2 BOXES JIFFY CORNBREAD MIX

LIG

HTLY GREASE 9 X 13 PAN.  MIX ALL INGREDIANTS TOGETHER AND SPREAD IN PAN.  BAKE 30 MINUTES AT 400 DEGREES.

BRUSH WITH BUTTER OR MARGARINE WHEN IT COMES OUT OF THE OVEN.

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Health insurance for the under-26 crowd

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The federal government unveiled details this week about how people up to age 26 can get covered by their parents' health insurance policies, as part of the health care reform law.

Consumers now have details about how one of the law's most-buzzed about provisions will actually work — and how much it will cost them.

Expanding health coverage to twentysomethings is welcome relief for an age group that accounts for the majority of uninsured Americans.

Roughly 30% of young adults up to age 26 have no health insurance at all. That's three times the rate of uninsured children, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS estimates that about 1.2 million young adults will elect to stay on a parent's health plan in 2011 as a result of the reform.

Here's what you need to know about the new regulations.

Who's covered: The law takes effect for insurance plans that already cover dependents, starting on or after Sept. 23, 2010.

Those plans will cover policyholders' children until age 26 — even if those adult children no longer attend college, don't live with their parents and aren't dependents on a tax return.

Finally! We can get health insurance

Under-26 children who were previously dropped from dependent coverage will also be able to re-enroll as long as they don't have access to an employer-sponsored plan.

If an adult child has access to another employer-sponsor

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ed health plan, insurers can generally refuse coverage, but only until 2014.

Also, the re-enrollment option only applies to plans that already offer dependent coverage. If a company has such a plan, it must inform employees their children, who may have aged out of the plan, will be eligible again starting Jan. 1, 2011.

The policy applies to married and unmarried children, but does not extend to their spouses or children.

How much it will cost: Insurers must treat all dependents the same, regardless of age. That means that companies cannot jack up costs or limit coverage for the under-26 group.

Parents will face a 0.7% increase in insurance premiums, across the board, for adding dependents to their plans, according to HHS. That will rise by an additional 1% in 2012 and in 2013. “[E]ither … stockholders or consumers” will shoulder that extra cost, HHS said in its report.

For those who enroll in the dependent coverage, the average policy will cost $3,380 for each dependent in 2011; $3,500 in 2012; and $3,690 in 2013, according to HHS's mid-range estimates. Those extra costs are tax-deductible.

How to get it: More than 65 health insurers have said they are now offering dependent coverage ahead of the September deadline.

But it's up to individual employers to decide when to offer the provision, and experts say most companies will opt to do that during open enrollment. That period typically happens in early fall.

For plan-years that start on or after Sept. 23, insurers must give qualifying young adults a 30-day window to enroll, according to HHS

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Blue Cross Changes to Dependent Age Limit

Last week, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee announced that it is extending the dependent age limit to 26, effective June 1, 2010, in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”).  This change will impact members of group medical, dental and vision plans (fully insured) and members of individual medical and dental plans with renewal or effective dates of June 1, 2010 or later.  Dependents anticipated to “age-off” on May 1, 2010 or later will be allowed to remain as a covered dependent.  All insured groups with renewal dates of June 1, 2010 or later can allow subscribers to add coverage for eligible dependents up to age 26 at the time of open enrollment.  The extension of coverage will remain in effect until the dependent reaches the age of 26, as long as the dependent continues to qualify under other PPACA and BlueCross eligibility guidelines.

On May 10, 2010, HHS issued an Interim Final Rule on this provision, including its definition of dependent.  BlueCross will review the Interim Final Rule in its entirety and provide further detail and guidance.

An FAQ with questions and answers specific to the change in dependent age limits is available for review in the secure site of bcbst.com, BlueAccess. You can also request a copy of the FAQ from your broker, consultant or BlueCross sales or account executive.


New Insurance Oversight Office
The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has created The Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (“OCIIO”), which is tasked with helping HHS implement many of the provisions of the health care reform legislation.  The OCIIO website can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/ociio/index.html, and will be a resource for information on initiatives and programs such as the high risk pool program and MLR requirements, as well as providing links to proposed regulations and requests for comments.  Responsibilities for OCIIO include:

  • Ensure compliance with new insurance market rules
  • Provide guidance and oversight for state-based Exchanges
  • Compile and maintain data for the HHS internet portal on insurance options
  • Administer the temporary high risk pool program and early retiree reinsurance program

Early Retiree Reinsurance Program
HHS released an Interim Final Rule for the early retiree reinsurance program established by PPACA, with a 30-day comment period and to be effective June 1, 2010.

The program will reimburse sponsors of employment-based plans for a portion of the costs of providing health coverage to early retirees – including eligible spouses, surviving spouses and dependents. Employment-based plans include group health plans (fully insured and self-funded), state and local government employee plans, voluntary employees’ beneficiary associations and multiemployer plans.  An “early retiree” is defined as a plan participant age 55 or older who is not an active employee and is not eligible for Medicare coverage.

Under the provisions of PPACA, the program will pay for 80% of the claim costs for each retiree or covered dependent that exceed $15,000 but are below $90,000 during a plan year

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.  Funding for the reinsurance program is limited to $5 billion and the program will sunset on Jan. 1, 2014. Sponsors may apply for reimbursement for costs incurred during plan years that start before June 1, 2010, provided the plan year ends after that date (e.g., calendar year 2010 plans). Sponsors must file an application with the HHS Secretary to be certified for participation in the program.  The application must include the following information:

  • The projected amount of reimbursement to be received for the first two plan-year cycles, with specific amounts for each plan year.
  • An attestation that policies and procedures are in place to detect and reduce fraud, waste and abuse.
  • A description of the procedures or programs the sponsor has in place with the potential to generate cost savings with respect to chronic and high-cost conditions.
  • An assurance that the sponsor has a written agreement with its health insurance issuer or group health plan to provide the HHS Secretary with information and data necessary to verify compliance with the program requirements, including access to individually identifiable health information subject to the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
  • A summary of how the sponsor will use reimbursed amounts to maintain a level of effort in contributing support to the plan (e.g., using funds to lower participant deductibles, coinsurance or copayments in future years).

Once a plan is certified by HHS, a reimbursement request may be made based on submitted claim costs.  If a request for reimbursement is denied, a plan sponsor has 15 calendar days from the date of determination to appeal to the HHS Secretary. According to the Interim Final Rule, the HHS Secretary will provide additional information on the reinsurance program, including the procedure for submitting reimbursement requests and for correcting any inaccuracies in submitted requests.

BlueCross is in the process of reviewing the Interim Final Rule and will be providing guidance on implementing the early retiree reinsurance program in the near future.

BCBSA Letter on “Good Faith Compliance”
Given the September effective dates for many of the “immediate impact” provisions – no lifetime limits, restricted annual limits, bans on cost-sharing for preventive services and dependent coverage changes – employers and health plans will be making many changes, including policy and contract revisions, IT system upgrades and modifications to marketing materials, either in the absence of final regulations or with little time between the issuance of rules and their effective dates. Given this short timeframe and the number of changes required, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (“BCBSA”), along with key employer organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the NFIB and the National Association of Manufacturers, sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Labor Secretary Hilda Lucia Solis requesting that the agencies provide affected entities with a “good faith compliance standard”.   You can view the letter by clicking here.

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Flood Cleanup Important Notice!

Many of our preferred restoration companies are doing a lot of moisture readings and the one common thing they found was that the structures are just not drying! The moisture meters are still maxing out so they are now trying to focus their efforts on two things:

1.  Getting the structure fully dry before they start rebuilding

2.  Spraying a mold treatment.

This is really important to convey to our clients or you may end up with a huge mold problem down the road.  Our companies are concerned that a lot of people are going to start re-building too early.  Spending a little money on this now is loads better than spending thousands of dollars on mold remediation a few months from now.

A lot of homeowners are trying to do it themselves and just don't have enough equ

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ipment to get it completely dry. Some people they have come across just have a couple of box fans and maybe a small dehumidifier. The issue is that these small dehumidifiers are only taking a little moisture out of the air but are not powerful enough to take the moisture out of the structure.

This weeks rain is not going to be helping with the moisture content in the air! They want you to know that they still have plenty of equipment to help finish the dry-out properly. They want our homeowners to know that they do not need to be afraid to call for an estimate. Many of our restoration companies are offering lower pricing due to the extreme nature of the situation.  They would be more than happy to take moisture readings and aid in finishing the dry-out or a germicide treatment.

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Flood Damage Cleaning

In most cases this is ground water.  It is contaminated with dirt, chemicals and various other polluted items.

Contents that are salvageable can be taken outside and sprayed with a hose or pressure washer.  They should also be wiped down with a disinfecting cleaner.

If soft goods such as pillows, sofas, mattresses, etc are wet,  they should probably be thrown out.  Carpets and pads should be thrown away.  Drywall that is wet needs to be cut out and bagged.  Wet baseboards need to be removed and discarded.  If a sump pump is available use it to get the water out of the structure.

Hard toys can be cleaned and disinfected in a 10% bleach solution.  Soft toys such as stuffed animals and dolls should be thrown out if they

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are wet.

Use paper masks and gloves if handling contaminated items and wear rubber boots if possible.  Shower well afterwards.

Mold starts to grow in approximately 72 hours.  It can be many, many days before restoration companies get to everyone, therefore, steps should be taken to minimize the damage.

Take pictures and video damage.  Also, make lists of damaged items.  This will be very helpful if the government approves help for flood losses.

Restoration companies will be asking for one half payment up front and one half when work is completed.  This is just for emergency services.  Those companies should be able to give a rough estimate at that time.  Other local companies may ask for $1000 or more to respond.

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FEMA Housing Portal

The FEMA Housing Portal is intended to help individuals and families, who have been displaced by a disaster, find a place to live. The portal consolidates rental resources identified and provided by federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Veterans Administration (VA), private organizations, and the public, to help individuals and families

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find available rental units in their area.

FEMA recommends to those who use this portal, that they contact the number on the listing prior to traveling to the location of the property to make sure the property is still available. The site is updated regularly, and we encourage those who use the portal to check back often for the most current information. Other helpful housing resources may be available on commercial websites.

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Federal Aid Programs For Tennessee Disaster Recovery

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama’s major disaster declaration issued for Tennessee.

Assistance for Affected Individuals and Families Can Include as Required:

  • Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. Assistance may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements. (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
  • Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional. (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
  • Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs. (Source: FEMA funded at 75 percent of total eligible costs; 25 percent funded by the state.)
  • Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals. (Source: FEMA funded; state administered.)
  • Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance. Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
  • Loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster’s adverse economic impact. This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
  • Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence. (Source: Farm Service Agency, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.)
  • Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans benefits and social security matters.

How to Apply for Assistance:

Those in the counties designated for assistance to affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers are available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time). Applicants registering for aid should be prepared to provide basic information about themselves (name, permanent address, phone number), insurance coverage and any other information to help substantiate losses.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

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FEMA Launches New Mobile Web Site For Smartphones

ASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate announced the launch of FEMA’s new mobile Web site, m.fema.gov. The mobile Web site makes it easier to access critical information regarding emergency preparedness and what to do before and after a disaster right on a smartphone.

“Smartphones are becoming more prevalent, affordable, reliable and more viable to locate and obtain information and assistance,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “This service will provide yet another avenue for the sharing of important information that is so critical to ensuring the public is prepared for emergencies. As we’ve seen in recent cases, often times after a disaster, mobile devices become a crucial lifeline to provide information to survivors.”

The new site is laid out in a user friendly, question and answer format, providing users with the answers to their top questions, such as:

What should I do in a disaster?

Where can I find assistance?

How can I help others?

FEMA will be making several enhancements to m.fema.gov in the coming months, including the ability to apply for individual assistance when a disaster has been declared by the President, check on the status of an application and update an existing application.

Today’s announcement of the launch of m.fema.gov comes just over a month until the start of this year’s hurricane season on June 1.  The mobile site is just one way that FEMA is reaching out to ensure that the public has the tools they need to be prepared for any emergency.  Families are also encouraged to log onto www.ready.gov and learn more about the simple steps they can take to ready for this season.

To view the video about the mobile Web site, visit:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4Kib7Am568

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

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